I Swallowed a Moon Made of Iron, ZOO Southside, Edinburgh * * *
Toronto-based Macau composer Njo Kong Kie delivers his solo recital as a tender requiem for Xu Lizhi, who committed suicide in 2014, aged 24, leaving behind a collection of poetry inspired by his experiences as a factory worker.
His beautiful lyrical work is projected on to a screen, with Mandarin surtitles. The recent Huawei controversy is the elephant in the room as he captures the drudgery and dehumanisation of the life of the worker drone, assembling parts for telecommunications technology.
This contrasts with the great dignity of the music which is, by turns, meditative, foreboding and elegant. Njo Kong Kie pounds at the piano, staccato insistence eventually giving way to mournful legato notes. Occasionally, he moves with graceful purpose around the floor to contrasting sound effects of industrial ambience versus the natural world.
The poetry also reaches out of the production line into the light with escapist flights of fancy and magic realist episodes, as Xu Lizhi sought release from his manual and emotional oppression. The lyrics of As I Lay Dying, delivered here as a capella song, speak of his ultimate release but also stand as a record of the grim working practises which prevail in the 21stcentury.
Until 25 August